To yarr or not to yarr. More like yawn. The first sleep inducing summer flick is about to set sail.
** ½ out 5
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo.
Walt Disney Pictures
Article first published as Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on Blogcritics.
Oh the law of diminishing returns how I loathe thee. This year sees so many sequels that it sort of makes your head spin if you think about it too hard. I’m bound and determined to approach each one with their own grain of salt, but some should deserve more credit walking in than others. Or so you’d think. Being predisposed to enjoy the likes of ”Scream 4” and ”Fast Five” were a given. But now, just when you thought it was safe for a fourth adventure of the ”Jester of Tortuga” comes “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
things. As Johnny Depp returns to one of his most signature roles, screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio have also returned. At least this time the two have taken the “suggestion” of basing “On Stranger Tides” upon the 1987 novel by Tim Powers. While they may know the Sparrow character rather well and Depp can officially play the part in his sleep, Disney has brought along a new director in Rob Marshall. Maybe the studio is still living in their heydays of 2002 when Marshall and company took home six Academy Awards including Best Picture for “Chicago,” but evidence suggests they also probably missed his last two films (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Nine”).
In “Pirates 4,” we begin in Cadiz, Spain; a fishing crew has netted a man bearing evidence of the long lost ship of Ponce de León. Next we’re shuttled away to London, England where returning cast mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally) is standing trial under scrutiny of being Jack Sparrow. Sparrow plops down incognito as presiding judge sentencing Gibbs to a life of imprisonment. Of course Sparrow has set everything up to help Gibbs escape. After being recaptured and taken before King George (Richard Griffiths at his fattest). Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) makes his existence to the plot known and a slick and polished “harrowing” street chase ensues. (Here’s where we find the most random cameo in years from Dame Judi Dench.)
Just because there’s some new additions to the plot as in a few zombies, mermaids and voodoo dolls, doesn’t mean anything else has changed. Jack goes about his misadventures through jungles and across tree tops with some of the silliest looking CGI this side of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls” when he’s not fulfilling plodding filler involving attempts to seduce Angelica. Davey Jones’ Locker is a far better place for the series than up on the big screen. Usually these films tend to spend their runtime trying to outdo each successive action sequence with the next but I suppose the only way to phrase things here is with Marshall trying to undo everything. The action gets progressively more boring as it goes along and become simpler with just a few sword fights once it gets past the big mermaid sequence. The 3-D only helps to hinder everything giving the whole film a strange murky look.
Photos courtesy Walt Disney Pictures